Biodiversity and Conservation

, 17:3307 | Cite as

Bird-habitat associations predict population trends in central European forest and farmland birds

  • Jiří ReifEmail author
  • David Storch
  • Petr Voříšek
  • Karel Šťastný
  • Vladimír Bejček
Original Paper


Recent studies show differences in population trends between groups of species occupying different habitats. In Czech birds, as well as in many other European countries, populations of forest species have increased, whereas populations of farmland species have declined. The aim of our study was to test whether population trends of particular species were related to finer bird-habitat associations within farmland and forest birds. We assessed bird-habitat associations using canonical correspondence analysis based on data from a 400 km long transect across the Czech Republic. We calculated population trends of 62 bird species using log-linear models based on data from a large-scale annual monitoring scheme, which covers the time series from 1982 to 2005. Within forest birds, species with a closer association with lowland broad-leaved forest have had more positive population trends, whereas species with a closer association with montane and coniferous forest revealed more negative population trends. We attribute these opposite trends to the gradual replacement of coniferous forests by deciduous ones, which took place in the Czech Republic during recent decades. Our analyses revealed a hump-shaped relationship within farmland birds, species most closely associated with farmland habitat revealing the most negative trends, whereas species with intermediate association to farmland habitat showed the most positive population trends. Such a pattern can be explained by the abandonment of previously cultivated areas followed by the spread of unmanaged meadows and scrubland. Changes in quantity or quality of preferred habitats may thus represent major drivers of observed bird population changes.


Bird community Canonical correspondence analysis Czech Republic Habitat use Land use Monitoring Population changes 



We wish to thank hundreds of volunteers who collected field data providing the material for calculation of population trends. J. Mourková and J. Cepák assisted in the transect bird counts. V. Zámečník, L. Šímová and M. Macková assisted in data management. We are grateful to D. Hořák, J. Mourková, O. Sedláček, A. L. Šizling and T. Telenský for discussions on this topic. Three anonymous referees kindly commented earlier versions of the manuscript. The study was partially supported by the Ministry of Education of the Czech Republic (LC06073) and by the Grant Agency of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic (IAA601970801). PV was supported by the European Commission and the RSPB.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jiří Reif
    • 1
    Email author
  • David Storch
    • 1
    • 2
  • Petr Voříšek
    • 3
  • Karel Šťastný
    • 4
  • Vladimír Bejček
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Ecology, Faculty of ScienceCharles University in PraguePraha 2Czech Republic
  2. 2.Center for Theoretical StudyCharles University in PraguePraha 1Czech Republic
  3. 3.Pan-European Common Bird MonitoringCzech Society for OrnithologyPraha 5Czech Republic
  4. 4.Department of Ecology and Environment, Faculty Environmental SciencesCzech University of Life SciencesPraha 6Czech Republic

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